Charles Stanley – Two Ways Through a Valley

 

Psalm 27:1-14

What do you do when the pressures of life seem greater than you can bear? Journeys through a valley are inevitable and painful, but God doesn’t waste them. The trials of life can be times of discovery about Him.

In our helplessness, we discover His almighty power to sustain us.
In our despair, God invites us to experience His peace and promises.
In our pain, He becomes our comforter and protector.
In our hopelessness, He lifts our eyes to see His sovereignty and goodness.

Other discoveries we make in severe crises have to do with ourselves. Terrible times test our faith and reveal our true character. When a crisis first hits, most of us immediately respond with alarm. But at that point, we can take one of two very different paths.

The way of fear. If our relationship with the Lord is weak, fear may cause us to panic, seek ungodly counsel, blame people or God for the problem, or try to find a way out on our own.

The way of faith. On the other hand, if our faith is strong, we’ll progressively move from alarm to trust by seeking the Lord through prayer and His Word. We do this by believing He will keep His promises despite supposed evidence to the contrary and by remembering how He helped us in the past. In this way, our endurance and confidence in the Lord is strengthened.

Every adversity God allows in our life is designed to bring us to spiritual maturity, not to devastate us. When we yield to Him in the midst of a crisis, He enables us to trust and wait on Him with patience and hope.

Bible in One Year: Daniel 5-6

 

http://www.intouch.org/

Our Daily Bread — The Ultimate Satisfaction

 

Read: Isaiah 55:1–7 | Bible in a Year: Proverbs 19–21; 2 Corinthians 7

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Isaiah 55:1

As we distributed snacks for children at a Bible School program, we noticed a little boy who devoured his snack. Then he also ate the leftovers of the children at his table. Even after I gave him a bag of popcorn, he still wasn’t satisfied. As leaders, we were concerned as to why this little boy was so hungry.

It occurred to me that we can be like that boy when it comes to our emotions. We look for ways to satisfy our deepest longings, but we never find what fully satisfies us.

The prophet Isaiah invites those who are hungry and thirsty to “come, buy and eat” (Isaiah 55:1). But then he asks, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” (v. 2). Isaiah is talking about more than just physical hunger here. God can satisfy our spiritual and emotional hunger through the promise of His presence. The “everlasting covenant” in verse 3 is a reminder of a promise God made to David in 2 Samuel 7:8–16. Through David’s family line, a Savior would come to reconnect people to God. Later, in John 6:35 and 7:37, Jesus extended the same invitation Isaiah gave, thus identifying Himself as the Savior foretold by Isaiah and other prophets.

Hungry? God invites you to come and be filled in His presence.

Father, I long to know You more. Only You can satisfy my deepest desires.

Only God will satisfy our spiritual hunger.

By Linda Washington

INSIGHT

Jesus’s invitation in John 7:37 echoes the call of Isaiah 55:1–7. The setting is the Feast of Tabernacles, and one of the daily rituals of the feast was designed to point to the exodus of Israel from Egypt. On each of the seven days of the feast, the priest would perform a ritual by bringing a pitcher of water to the altar and pouring it out—a reminder of God’s provision of water in the wilderness. In John 7, it’s the last day of the feast, and it appears that at the moment when the priest is pouring out the water, Jesus declares, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” (v. 37). Water satisfies. It quenches thirst. It meets our deepest needs—and Jesus declares Himself to be the source of that ultimate satisfaction.

In what things might you be pursuing satisfaction other than in Christ?

Bill Crowder

 

 

http://www.odb.org

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Breaking Headlines

Swedish chemist Alfred Bernhard Nobel was once largely known as a maker and inventor of explosives. In 1866 Nobel invented dynamite, which earned him both fame and the majority of his wealth. At one point in his life he held more than 350 patents, operated labs in 20 countries, and had more than 90 factories manufacturing explosives and ammunition. Yet today he is most often remembered as the name behind the Nobel Prize, the most highly regarded of international awards for efforts in peace, chemistry, physics, literature, and economics.

In 1888 a bizarre incident occurred, which seemed to have afforded Alfred Nobel an unlikely opportunity for reflection. Many believe it was this event that ultimately led to his establishment of the Nobel Prize and subsequent change in his reputation. Alfred’s brother Ludvig died while staying in Cannes, France, but the French newspapers mistakenly confused the two brothers, reporting the death of the inventor of explosives. One paper’s headline read brusquely: “Le marchand de la mort est mort”—the merchant of death is dead.

I can’t imagine reading the headlines of my life written at the hands of my harshest critic, but I do remember laboring over an assignment in middle school in which I was required to write my own obituary. Some of the class was given the task of writing it as if they died well into their eighties; others had to write as if they died that year. The assignment was meant to incite reflection, and in most of us it did—particularly those of us who were designated early deaths. As in the case with Alfred Nobel, my premature obituary suggested headlines I did not want to live with; that I was the one writing them made this all the more sobering.

In a very real sense, I am still (as is each of us) the writer of my own obituary. But I am no longer thinking about the words and headlines in the way I was thinking about them in middle school. As I struggled to find the words, it seemed I had so little material with which to work—no graduations, no family, no accomplishments worth mentioning, no humanitarian contributions, no overarching purpose for my life. I was imagining all the things I had not done and feeling quite insignificant about the things I had. At that point in time, it seemed clear that a few more years were necessary in order to make a meaningful headline.

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Breaking Headlines

Joyce Meyer – God Will Meet You in the Fire

 

We believe God is going to deliver us, but even if He does not, we are not conforming to your image of what you think we ought to be. We are going to do what God is telling us to do. You can do what you want to with your furnace. But whatever happens to us, we will have peace. — Daniel 3:17-18 (Paraphrased)

Adapted from the resource Trusting God Day by Day Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship the golden idol that King Nebuchadnezzar constructed, and as a result were thrown into the fiery furnace (see Dan. 3). These three young men had no idea what would happen to them, but they were willing to put their lives on the line instead of disobeying God. We need people today who will take a stand for righteousness, for what is right according to God’s Word. If this does not happen, our world will be in serious trouble.

Many times, people fail to stand up for righteousness because they are afraid of what will happen when they do. Will they lose their jobs? Will they lose their friends? Will God abandon them? In situations such as these, when we do not know what the outcome or result of a situation will be, we need to trust God and press forward to do what we believe is right. Even if we are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, God’s Word says we are blessed (see Matt. 5:10). Those three Hebrew boys would’ve never experienced their incredible miracle if they weren’t willing to trust God as they stood in that fire.

The world desperately needs men and women who will trust God even in the midst of the fires of persecution and outside pressure. God can put us in better places than people could ever put us if we trust in Him and if we are people of integrity and excellence. We need people who will put everything on the line and say, “Even if I lose what I want, I will not compromise and do what I know in my heart to be wrong.”We need to fear the Lord above all else, and to trust Him at all times, in every situation, every day of our lives.

Trust in Him. Don’t be afraid to stand up for righteousness, because you know He’ll never leave you or forsake you.

Prayer Starter: Father, when the “fire” is turned up in my life, help me to stand strong and be a good representative for You. Help me to walk in integrity and do what’s right, even when it’s not popular. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Blessed Peacemakers

 

“Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up? Do you love me enough to want to help me? Does it mean anything to you that we are brothers in the Lord, sharing the same Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic at all? Then make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose” (Philippians 2:1,2). “Happy are those who strive for peace – they shall be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

Few individuals are more pleasing to our Lord than those who seek to promote peace. He is our great example since He is the author of peace. He is called the Prince of Peace, and He promises, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27, KJV).

When you and I think of peacemakers today, we think perhaps of national leaders who have made great efforts toward international peace, or of negotiators who have served as intermediaries, attempting to eliminate strife between management and labor.

But more is involved in this beatitude – certainly more of a spiritual nature. You may know, or have known, as I have, members of churches whom the Lord has been able to use as peacemakers – those who calm fears and help to unruffle feathers when the inevitable quarrels arise.

Peacemaking is something that requires work. It does not come easily. Basically, man is hostile toward himself, toward his neighbor and toward God. The peacemaker is one who can build bridges of love and understanding and trust.

Friends, neighbors, men of influence, lawyers, physicians, may do much to promote peace, and certainly homemakers within families can make a great difference in the harmony of a home. Long and deadly arguments can be resolved by a simple expression of love and a kind word at the right moment.

Our strife-worn world, from the individual home to the international centers of influence, is in need of children of God who are peacemakers – committed to being ambassadors of the Prince of Peace.

Bible Reading:II Corinthians 13:11-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Through the enabling of God’s Holy Spirit, I will seek ways to become a peacemaker in building bridges of love, trust and understanding where there is now conflict, discord and even hate.

 

http://www.cru.org

Max Lucado – Through the Valley of Death

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

It seems most people think death is to be avoided or postponed and ignored.  But God promises that death will be swallowed up in victory! (1 Corinthians15:54). Jesus rose from the dead, not just to show us his power, but also to lead us through the valley of death.

Recently I discovered it’s possible to record a message for my tombstone.  And if I do, this may be what you’ll hear:

Thanks for coming by.  Sorry you missed me, but I’m not here.  I’m home.  Finally home!  At some point my King will call, and this grave will be shown for the temporary tomb it is.  You might want to step to the side in case that happens while you are here.  Hope you’ve made plans for your own departure.  All the best, Max.

Yeah, I know it needs some work!  But while the wording might change, the promise never will.  “Death has been swallowed up in victory!”

Read more Unshakable Hope

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Mark Cuban helps wedding changed by Florence

Brendan McLean and Allison Miller were supposed to exchange wedding vows today in Charleston, South Carolina, where they became engaged last November. However, the city is now under a mandatory evacuation order.

So, Brendan and Allison will get married today at home in the Dallas area. The wedding will take place in the backyard of Allison’s parents’ home. The table, dishes, and flowers have been donated. The couple says Mavericks owner Mark Cuban even covered the catering after a friend of the bride sent an email asking him for help.

Ten trillion gallons of rain

More than five million people are under hurricane warnings or watches this morning as Hurricane Florence nears land. But you don’t have to live in the path of the storm to be affected by its devastation.

The eye of the hurricane is expected to make landfall this afternoon. The storm surge and flooding it is already generating are equivalent to a Category 4 storm. North Carolina may get ten trillion gallons of rain over the next week.

While we may not be facing such an unthinkable disaster, we’re all facing storms of some kind.

When tragedy strikes, skeptics question the relevance of faith in the God who did not prevent the storm. But suffering is caused by a variety of sources, from misused free will to the consequences of living on a fallen planet (Romans 8:22).

To reject God’s help when we need him most is like rejecting medical science because we’re sick. I understand that God is omnipotent in a way doctors are not, but the practical fact is that we should not let our questions keep us from our Father’s grace.

If you’re not dealing with suffering today, you may be tomorrow. How is faith in God relevant to those facing the hurricanes of life? Consider three principles.

Remember what God has done in the past

The Bible assures us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Because God by nature is the “highest good,” he can never act in a way that is inconsistent with his character. He cannot be less powerful or loving or gracious in the present than he was in the past. What he did yesterday, he can do today.

Continue reading Denison Forum – Mark Cuban helps wedding changed by Florence